Prof Barbara Herr Harthorn


NSEC: Center for Nanotechnology in Society

University of California
Santa Barbara
United States
PH: +1 (805) 893-3350
Fax: +1 (805) 893-7995
Email: [email protected]


Barbara Herr Harthorn, PhD is Director and Principal Investigator of the NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center: Center for Nanotechnology in Society and Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, Anthropology and Sociology at University of California at Santa Barbara. Prof. Harthorn also leads an Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG 7) and serves on the Executive Committee of the NSF/EPA University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN),

Prof. Harthorn leads IRG 3 in the CNS which is focused on public, expert and media views on nanotechnologies' risks and IRG 7 in the UC CEIN which conducts research more specifically on public views of environmental risks of nanomaterials. Her current work in the CNS-UCSB examines how both experts and diverse US and comparative UK publics view the risks and benefits of emerging nanotechnologies. Her team uses a mixed set of qualitative and quantitative methods to study public deliberation of nanotechnologies for health, energy and environment and to identify drivers of nanotech risk perception among people who vary by social position (e.g., by gender, race, class, education, age), and across different nanotechnology applications such as energy and health. Harthorn is also conducting collaborative survey research on international nanotech industry Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) practices and views on risks (2006, and in progress 2009).

Prof. Harthorn is particularly interested in:

  • How people's social position and past experiences of discrimination affect their emergent attitudes toward new technologies
  • Risk perception attenuation and amplification
  • Investigating new methods for enhanced public participation in deliberation contexts by women and people of color
  • Exploring means for equitable technological development so that new technologies' capabilities will work to reduce rather than exacerbate global inequality
  • Engaging social science research in the national and international pursuit of responsible technological development

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